Message by President Jacob Zuma on National Reconciliation Day 2017
Every year on the 16th December South Africa celebrates our National Reconciliation Day, where we work together as a nation to promote reconciliation, peace and social cohesion.
The theme for this year's Reconciliation Day is "The Year of OR Tambo: Reconciliation through Radical Socio-Economic Transformation", following in the year in which Government celebrated and commemorated the centenary of the life and legacy of President Oliver Reginald Tambo.
The entire month of December is our Reconciliation Month since the dawn of freedom in 1994, after our first democratic elections. It is therefore on this day that we multiply our efforts to foster reconciliation and unity amongst South Africans and to embrace the common ties that bind us together rather than focus on what divides us as a nation.
Although we have since 1994 prioritised reconciliation, social cohesion and nation building, the South African society remains divided on various cultural, racial and class lines.
It therefore becomes important for all of us to work together even more by maximising what we have in common for the good of all who live in our country. We believe that each one of us has a role to play in healing the wounds of the past, reconciling our communities and working to build a new nation. We encourage all our people on this day to work together to bridge the divide created by our ugly past and to move towards a united society.
We must not let our past define us but instead we must build a future where all South Africans can prosper. We have the capacity to look beyond our differences towards the united society we all envisioned at the start of democracy.
Please reach out to your fellow South Africans during this Reconciliation Month.
Take time to learn about fellow South Africans. We would like to encourage South Africans to speak to an acquaintance or colleague about their life experience as we believe that by talking, sharing and learning, we will break down barriers.
By focusing on our shared experiences we can build a nation that encourages dialogue, fosters social cohesion and celebrates its heritage. We must ensure that our daily experiences progressively cut across the divisions of race, gender, disability and class.
South Africans from all walks of life have the responsibility to respect and acknowledge the past, celebrate the present and build the future together.
While we remember the sacrifices made by millions of South Africans who ensured that our country could be free, we also re-commit ourselves as a nation to unity and social cohesion.
Our National Development Plan describes a nation that is more conscious of their commonalities than their differences. It undertakes to make it easier for South Africans to interact with each other across racial and class divides. The NDP further calls on all in our society to come together to craft and implement social compacts that will help propel South Africa onto a higher developmental trajectory.
In the year in which we celebrate the centenary of the life and legacy of President Tambo, we note that throughout his life OR Tambo fought for a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
He also understood the need for dialogue and discussions in fostering reconciliation and transformation. We therefore believe that our freedom would not be possible without the sacrifice of OR Tambo and we owe it to his legacy to continue the fight for a better and more equitable society.
Let us build on his legacy to create the society envisaged in the Freedom Charter and Constitution. Let us today join together to create a united and prosperous nation that Oliver Tambo intended.
Also in his spirit, we must continue to work together to build a more inclusive economy that truly reflects the demographics of the country. Working with business, labour and the community sector, we have to change the ownership, control and management of the economy so that it benefits all.
I wish you all a happy memorable National Reconciliation Day.
Issued by: The Presidency